Media Contact

Morgan Kelly
Communications Director

June 29, 2022

Advocates Celebrate Voting Rights Victories in Dover

DOVER—In a historic move today, the Delaware General Assembly passed Senate Bill 320 (SB 320), the vote-by-mail bill, less than a week after they passed House Bill 25 (HB 25), the same-day registration bill, and just over a year after passing Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), the automatic voter registration bill. Advocates are celebrating these victories as one of the most influential legislative sessions for voting rights in Delaware’s recent history.

“Over the course of this legislative session, the General Assembly affirmed what we know to be true: unfettered access to the ballot for eligible voters is essential to democracy,” said Meera Devotta, voter campaign manager at the ACLU of Delaware. “We applaud the efforts of the Delaware Voting Rights Coalition, and all the legislators who worked to make these reforms a reality, including Senator Kyle Evans Gay, the prime sponsor of SB 320 and SB 5, and Representative Sherry Dorsey Walker, the prime sponsor of HB 25. We urge Governor Carney to sign SB 320 and HB 25 into law quickly, so that we can move ahead full-steam with our efforts to help educate Delawareans about the new ways in which they may register to vote and cast their ballot in upcoming elections.” 

The Delaware Voting Rights Coalition (DVRC) is Delaware's first statewide coalition of voting rights organizations and advocates, and is focused on encouraging voters and policy makers to consider reforms that will improve access to voting. Since the coalition first organized in 2021, they have worked on key legislative priorities, including SB 320, HB 25, and SB 5.

“Government of the people, by the people, and for the people only works as it should when everyone has the freedom to vote,” says Claire Snyder-Hall, Executive Director of Common Cause Delaware. “While democracy is under attack all over the country, we are proud that Delaware is moving in the right direction with the passage of three signficant pieces of legislation that remove barriers and increase access for voters.”

Evelyn Brady of Network Delaware, a DVRC member, reflected on the passage of SB 320, the vote-by-mail bill. “One thing is at the very core of our democracy: freedom. Now voters will have the freedom to decide how they will exercise their precious right to vote. Casting a ballot will now be much easier for so many people, including voters with limited access to transportation, those who can’t leave work to get to a polling place, people with health concerns that keep them from safely voting at the polls, and so many others.”

Jill Itzkowitz of the League of Women Voters Delaware, celebrated voting rights advances from the vote-by-mail bill and HB 25, the same day registration bill. “Vote-by-mail will enable voters to avoid long lines and keep them from having to take time off of work to cast their ballot. Same-day registration modernizes our voting system and ensures expanded access for voters in Delaware. No voter should miss the chance to participate in our democracy simply because they didn’t meet an arbitrary registration deadline or were unable to go to the polls in-person — and soon they won’t have to.” 

“SB 5, automatic voter registration, passed last year, was an important win for voting rights,” said Clara Licata of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice. “According to Census estimates, at least 10,000 Delawareans of voting age are not yet registered to vote. Automatic voter registration, now in combination with same day registration, will improve overall voter registration numbers for Delaware voters by leaps and bounds — especially in Black and brown communities, who face the most barriers when it comes to casting their ballot.”

Both HB 25 and SB 320 will be effective upon the Governor’s signature, which means that voters will have access to same day registration and vote-by-mail for the 2022 elections. SB 5, automatic voter registration, is already effective.

With the legislative session ending for the year, and election season beginning to ramp up, advocates with the DVRC will pivot from a legislative focus to an advocacy and public education focus, working to get people registered to vote, organizing to ensure incarcerated people have access to the ballot, educating Delawareans on the new voter laws, and helping voters cast an informed ballot through, ACLU-DE’s voter campaign website, and, the Delaware League of Women Voters’ (LWV-DE) voter information website.

Stanley Holdorf, supervising attorney of the Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network (PLAN), previewed some of the work to come. “We celebrate this moment, and then we keep going. One major area of advocacy that the Delaware Voting Rights Coalition is working on, in partnership with the Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network, is to make sure that eligible voters who are living in Delaware prisons are also able to access their ballots.”

Learn more about DVRC

Download Spanish Version of This Release